The Thomas@ series by Carina Diedricks-Hugo is a popular title amongst Afrikaans teens. LAPA Uitgewers approached Etiket with the desire to make a more engaging reading experience for the next title in the series. In many ways, this project came along at the perfect time for me.

Thomas@Mac

I found out about JC Hutchins & Jordan Wiseman’s book, Personal Effects: Dark Art, on Adam Christensen’s MacCast. Despite never having seen the title in the flesh, I was immensely inspired by the big ideas that form part of the storytelling.

I had just finished an initial brainstorming sessions to conceptualize the rough ideas for an ARG for a locally produced feature film. All I could see was possibilities. Alongside a couple of colleagues we threw around ideas on how to make this book interactive and engaging in meatspace.

The project progressed to a point where I had to bring together all of the ideas into a concrete way to extend the reading experience without changing the story for those who didn’t have access to things like smartphones or internet connected computers.

In certain places Microsoft Tags and URLs appear alongside the text of the book. The reader is prompted to scan these tags, at which point they are taken to an element related to that particular point in the story. The collateral created for these sections include photos of characters in the book, chat conversations between these characters, audio clips and a video performance of the characters’ band, webpages and Flash games.

For budgetary reasons approximately 60% of the initial ideas made it into the book. Etiket submitted the Thomas@ Augmented Reality reading experience for 3 categories of the Pendoring Awards 2011 and we got 2 nominations for it. I’m very much looking forward to the awards ceremony later this month.